Kelly Robinson is a Nuxalk artist from Bella Coola, BC. For his Mid-Career Artist Scholarship, Kelly developed a special project for his community by carving a frontlet for the Nuxalk Staltmc.
His work was exhibited in the exhibition c̓əc̓əwitəl̕ | helping each other | ch’áwatway at the Museum of Vancouver in 2020.
“I am at the beginning stages of my art career. The knowledge I’ve been long awaiting to receive has arrived. Using these tools in the proper manner will show me my purpose in the contribution of First Nations people. It is vital for me as a Northwest Coast artist to recognize the values of not only the art but the song, dance, language of our people. Through the art, I will begin my educational journey in recapturing the culture we once had. It is a very exciting time to be a First Nations artist in Canada.
This frontlet for a Nuxalk Staltmc (hereditary chief) was made as a gift to my community in Bella Coola. I was exposed to First Nations artwork at a very early age in Bella Coola. From there, my curiosity and passion for the culture grew and I become determined in learning and refine the art – specifically the unique design forms of the Nuxalk. Under the guidance of my uncle, noted Master Carver, Alvin Mack, I developed my own techniques in the creation of two- and three-dimensional art forms.
After graduating from the Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts program at the Native Education College in Vancouver, I apprenticed first with Haida artist Jim McGuire and then with renowned Nuu-chah-nulth artist Gordon Dick. After graduating from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast art in 2012, I began studying with master carver Tim Paul, who also adopted me into his family. During this time, I enlightened myself with Nuu-chah-nulth stories and perfected my mask-making abilities in the Nuu-chah-nulth style. Today, I use my artwork to tell stories of the Nuxalk and Nuu-chah-nulth people, land and culture. I examine stories of the supernatural, potlach societies, and the land and sea in my work.”
– Kelly Robinson